Personal Training Costs Less Than Starbucks (coaching costs even less)

There is a price to pay for health. While most people will say that price is too high. These people would rather not hire a personal trainer or even get a gym membership. What they do not realize is the cost of not being fit is even higher.

Do you understand the price you pay for that coffee you buy every morning is great? The price of a short latte is $2.85 at Starbucks. You know you could brew that cup at home, but it will cost you. Let me explain.

The IHRSA Trend Report highlighted price as the number one barrier to joining a gym (58% of non-members cited this reason).

Gyms, personal training, and health, in general, has a price to it.

Rates may vary, from low to high, for a number of reasons (location, amenities, education and experience).

When your health is concerned, you should be doing the math based on “cost” and not “price.”

I am going to coach you on the difference between the “price” versus “cost.”

“You Get What You Pay For.”

Conceptually, we know what it means. However, this was not my experience, as a personal trainer, when it comes to health and fitness.

People want to pay as little as possible while getting the best results.

Sorry, it does not work like that because “you get what you pay for.”

People join health clubs for one reason — to improve themselves. The reasons people quit are varied, but the economic aspect, “price,” is the reason 44% of people cancel their memberships.

For the purpose of this article, I am going to drill down use personal training as my constant variable (or a cup of coffee).

There were 55.3 million health club members in 2015, but only around 13.5% use personal trainers. While both, memberships and training rates, vary the cost of personal training is significantly higher than most services and products.

Prices vary so much; I will use three levels of rate:

  • $20-$35 is the lower end
  • $50-$75 is the average
  • $100-$300 and higher is the top end

NOTE: I am excluding celebrity trainers who can charge thousands of dollars for their time on an hourly or daily basis.

Up to certain point, you get what you pay for.

There is a difference between these three levels of personal trainers. What you think you are paying for are education and experience. Why you actually pay for it, is based on your values.

Uncertified or New Trainers

When a trainer first starts out, they may have one or the other or neither. So, get a one who at least has some education (college courses or certification) or clearly has experience — the “eye” test. Even if you get a trainer who is credentialed and chiseled, understand what you are paying for if they only charge you $30 a session.

Seasoned Professional

If you are paying about $60 an hour, you got yourself a professional. So you should expect more. You will know right away you are working with the right person by the consultation process. Every trainer should conduct baseline assessments (questionnaires, body composition, movement screen, etc.), at this price it is a must.


When you are paying for a top tier trainer, it is probably because you have probably felt, first hand, the cost of working with an amateur. You signed up for a 10-pack of sessions, thinking you got a deal only to realize your new trainers is always late, on the phone, or sitting down. At this rate, think “quality of quantity.” Even working with a trainer once or twice a week can ensure you set proper expectations, learn correct exercise programming basic and technique, and have someone you can refer to when you get stuck.

Health Is Not A Luxury

Economists would say a “luxury product” is an “item that people purchase in disproportionately greater amounts as their income increases.”

For the average person, a luxury product is something else. Exotic cars, high-end fashion, and expensive restaurants are luxuries. The mind quickly fills with images of Rolls-Royce Phantom vehicle, Hermes handbag, Patek Philippe watch, and personal training.

People think personal training is a luxury expense or only “rich” people can afford it. After ten years in the industry, that has not been my experience. NOTE: from anecdotal evidence, the average personal training client makes an average salary — maybe a little more or less depending upon the person and situation.

It is a fact that both manufacturers and trainers may be expensive. While I think people assume goods are of a higher quality than their less-expensive counterparts, I am not always sure that is the case with health.

What is the connection between the price and quality of fitness goods and services?

It makes sense to make this association. Price directly correlates with labor and materials. However, at some point, prices that are too low or high should be signals of exclusivity and not the actual value of an item or service.

For example, I love sneakers. I regularly swing by Moda3, a local skate shop in my neighborhood, and check out their gear. I have contemplated buying an of shoes over $150. Is that shoe nicer than the one I could get for $50? Maybe. Is it nicer than the one I could get for $100? Maybe not. If you are curious, I rather pay more than $100 for a pair of sneakers because I do not see the value in it.

We all know there are many people, they are called “sneakerheads,” who do buy that $150 pair of shoes. Is it because they are assuming the shoe is of better quality? Alternatively, is it because they want an exclusive brand and that signifies prestige to other people?

When we buy stuff — even if we are not aware of the mental math — it is because we value spending the extra cash.

The Difference Between the “Price” and “Cost” of Losing Weight

Everyone does not have the goal to lose weight. This is an example. You can substitute any quantifiable health or fitness performance indicator. Meaning, if you can assign a number value to it (weight, body fat, strength, speed, etc.), you can check the price versus the cost of your particular goal.

Let’s imagine the following scenario:

  • Three clients (A, B, and C)
  • Three fitness professionals (A, B, and C)
  • All clients want to lose about 50 pounds
  • All trainers say it is going to take about one year

Price per session

  • The price of personal trainer A is $30 per session (there is no minimum amount of sessions)
  • The price of personal trainer B is $60 per session (there is a two session/week minimum for three months or 24 session minimum)
  • The price of an online coach C is $179 per month (12-month commitment)

Total price of services bought

  • Scenario A = $300 (10 sessions)
  • Scenario B = $1,440 (24 sessions)
  • Scenario C = $2,148 (0 sessions) NOTE: this trainer is an online coach


In scenario A, the trainer and client meet irregularly over the course of a few months before the customer loses motivation. One year after the last session, the client reaches out to the trainer asking to redeem her last three meetings. The trainer lets the client know the sessions were only good for six months, but they can buy another pack if they would like to. Because the trainer is more experienced it is going to now be $60 per session with a two session/week minimum for three months, or 24 session minimum. NOTE: this happened to me.

In scenario B, the trainer and client had completed a few assessments before the client decided to buy. They also have scheduled to meet every Tuesday and Thursday for the next four months. Because the client travels, the trainer has written a few workouts the client can do on their own and extended the program for another 30 days to keep the client on track. This relationship continues until the client gets a new job and has to move. NOTE: the total price for training is $4,320 — or 8 months.

In scenario C, the coach has an online platform that keeps track of all his client’s questionnaires and assessments. In fact, the platform hosts everything the client prescribes to this client like daily habits, weekly lessons, webinars, notes, and exercise programs. The client never sees the trainer face-to-face, but can buy sessions for $150 a la carte. Over the course of one year, the client implements 20+ lifestyle habit changes. She also walks away with a database of information, feedback, and workouts. NOTE: the total price for the coaching is $3,498 — client bought monthly 45-minute personal training sessions.

Client results

  • Client A gains 5 pounds one year later
  • Client B lost 16 pounds one year later
  • Client C lost 38 pounds one year later

What’s the cost of personal training for each client

  • The cost to client $60 per pound gained
  • The cost to client B is $270 per pound lost
  • The cost to client C $91.82 per pound lost

You should know this…

  1. All three scenarios are the same fitness professional, me.
  2. Each client represents one real client of mine.
  3. Each pricing model is a representation of my own business.

Early on, my clients paid way more to lose (and sometimes gain) weight. Even when I got pretty good, there were circumstances outside of my client’s or my control that lead to underperformance when compared to projected success. However, now, when I get someone to fully commit to their health and fitness goals, the cost is lower, and the results are better.

Price is a one-time thing. Cost is a lifetime thing.

Make sure your number goal when working with a professional is efficiency. When you pay less upfront, other costs (time and money) usually go up. When you pay more up front, cost (return on your investment) is more efficient.

The best deal is based on your expectation or results.

“I Understand, It Costs Less to Work with the BEST but…”

Yes, I went there.

I charged a few bucks a session because I had low self-worth. Now, I have higher self-awareness. If I had more self-awareness when I first started training, I would have been able to explain the process of getting healthy and fit with more confidence. What I would have said would have been the same, but my level (and my client’s level) of understanding with have been more congruent.

I am saying you have to get a personal trainer to be a success. I”m also not saying you should ditch personal training and hire an online coach. What I am saying is you have to think about what the investment as a whole.

What’s the return on “x”? Moreover, “x” can be whatever it takes for you to be successful.

Here are your options:

The Non-Gym Option

If you live somewhere warm, you may be able to train outdoors year round. Alternatively, you could already pay for amenities like a gym or pool at your apartment complex. Lastly, there’s this place called the internet. It has tons of free articles and videos explaining how to get in shape.

Price: $
Cost: $$$$$

It is going to take you a lot longer on your own. Remember, the cost is the “price” divided by the result. In this case, the price is “time.”
Gym Membership Option

I do not care where you are. You can find a way to invest $10–19 a month in yourself. There are so many gyms with dirt cheap rates right now; there is little excuse. You will find everything you need here and sometimes a few perks like bagels and pizza.

Price: $
Cost: $$$$

Yes, it is cheap. However, remember — you get what you pay for. You are not going to miss $10 a month (FACT: that is why this is an ingenious business model), so if you do not go, there is no big deal. If you do go, maybe find the right workout buddy, it is a steal.

Health Club Option

A gym membership can get up there in price. My gym is about $50 a month, and I have paid upwards of $80. However, that is me. What you will find at these gyms, at no extra cost, are pools, saunas, and group classes you can join.

Price: $$
Cost: $$$

Paying a little bit more is usually an incentive to be more active. It also affords you options to switch things up, so you do not get bored. Still, you are going at this mostly alone. Group instructors will not be able to pay you personalized attention. Nutrition will also be a “no fly zone” for anyone working at this facility.

Small Group

My favorite. After personal training for three years, my clients wanted to continue working with me but couldn’t prioritize the investment. So paying $199/month instead of $320/month was a deal. They got an extra session for almost half the price and met a bunch of cool people with similar interests and goals.

Price: $$$
Cost: $$

Small groups have many benefits. It is cheaper, so you can keep doing it and spend your extra cash on nutrition or body work. The downside is classes are usually really early or late. If you miss a session, you still get charged. Moreover, depending on the trainer, there may be no nutritional support or just supplementation recommendations.

Personal Training

Again, I am not bashing personal training professionals or the industry. I am calling a spade a spade. If you the right client and good trainer match and the key word are “if” you can have a great thing. Trainers are going to drastically reduce your learning curve. You pay for it, but it is worth it. In the short term, you do not get injured and learn how to train properly.

Price: $$$$
Cost: $$

As you know the price and cost may vary. That is not just on the shoulders of the trainer. You have a lot at stake in this partnership. Understand what you are paying for — instruction — and maximize your time by doing everything you are supposed to do outside of the gym. You know, drinking water (not booze), sleeping enough, eating healthy food, and of course doing your cardio.

Online Fitness Coaching

A nutrition coach may or may not have any experience with prescribing exercise. In my case, I do. In this option, you are focused on building habits that will last long after you stop working with me. It is not the sexiest options, meaning you are not going to be running around with a bunch of teammates. There is not booming playlist or high fives. You set a goal, and you are held accountable — every day. At the end of the program, you already know what to expect.

Price: $$$
Cost: $

It is a no fluff, no frill approach to getting results. However, hey, it works. Of course, you get to have fun too. Some coaches, like me, hold Skype sessions or private video sessions for members. At the end of the day, the person who reaches their goal is going to be having the most fun.

Value is the Most Overlooked Factor

The price is the same for everyone who buys a cup of coffee. But the cost depends on each person’s values.

  • Some people value low-maintenance. There are no supplies to buy or machine to upkeep.
  • Some people value their time. You can run in an out of a coffee shop in minutes.
  • Some people value recognition. It’s cool to be seen in the shop and on your way to work with a branded cup of joe.

It’s no different when people choose which gym they belong to or personal trainer they work out with.

Value is the key factor

While the value of price should be low, the value of cost should be high.

Remember, the reason you work on your health and fitness is to improve yourself.

  • If you want to spend extra time and energy, go with the lower price. Your cost is time and energy.
  • If you want results quickly, you are going to pay a little more but the cost will also be a little lower.
  • If long lasting change is what you value, the best deal may be hiring a coach.

When you work with a good fitness coach, the cost is lower than personal training and the return on the investment is a lot higher. Commitment is the real cost.

Save Some Time and Some Money

Contact me HERE and I’ll give you some advice — for FREE. Zero price at a huge value. The cost is up to you.